The principles of a healthy diet include observing balance, moderation, and variety when eating. And when it comes to increasing food variety, health professionals would advise us to eat a colorful diet or eat the rainbow.
Red strawberries. Orange carrots. Yellow bananas. Green broccoli. Violet eggplants. But how about blue? How can we include blue foods in our diet, and why is it important?
The naturally occurring colors of fresh fruits and vegetables are due to the active & beneficial phytochemicals they contain. Just as carotenoids make carrots orange, anthocyanins make blueberries blue.
What is this compound that makes blueberries blue?
Blueberries are one of the very few foods that are naturally blue in color. The bioactive pigment that gives blueberries this distinctive color is called anthocyanin.
Anthocyanins are phenolic compounds that have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. They are so good for us that many studies focus on their beneficial effect on obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and brain & nerve health.
As an antioxidant, anthocyanins help neutralize free radicals that cause cell damage. This helps keep our cells in a stress-controlled environment to slow cell aging and maintain normal cellular function.
As an anti-inflammatory agent, anthocyanins help our cells, especially our immune systems, manage their reaction to internal and external stresses. This makes them helpful in multiple conditions such as psoriasis, asthma, lupus, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome.
Photo by Adam Bartoszewicz on Unsplash
What other nutrients are in blueberries?
On top of this superfood’s burst in color and flavor, blueberries are also rich in these nutrients:
- Fiber. Fiber helps cleanse the digestive system by easing bowel movements. It also helps in flushing cholesterol and makes you feel full faster.
- Vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital to the growth, development, and repair of all our cells. We need it to maintain skin collagen, immune function, iron absorption, and bone health, among many others.
- Vitamin K. Vitamin K is mostly known for its key role in blood clot formation – so we don’t bleed excessively. It also helps promote bone formation to maintain bone density.
- Manganese. Manganese helps activate many enzymes in metabolism and plays a role in the different chemical processes in our bodies. These include fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, blood sugar regulation, and normal brain and nerve function.
How do I include and enjoy blueberries in my diet?
Here are a few ways that you can enjoy blueberries:
- Eating them as they are because they are wholesome and delicious
- Pureeing blueberries as in smoothies and fruit yogurts, or for jams and syrups.
- Incorporating them in baked goods such as pies, muffins, breads, or energy bites.
- Topping them over oatmeal, salads, parfaits, and beverages.
For starters, you can try making high-fiber pancakes with them as I did! Just follow the 3-step recipe below.
Blueberry Banana Oat Pancakes
Step 1. Gather the following ingredients:
- 2 medium bananas, mashed
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ½ cup quick-cooking oats
- ½ cup blueberries washed and rinsed
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
Step 2. Mix everything, adding the blueberries last.
Step 3. Set your pan on low to medium heat. Grease the pan and add the batter using a measuring tool – I used an ice cream scoop.
Use a spoon to gently check the bottom of the pancake – golden brown means go. Use a spatula to flip the pancake gently.
Serve warm with more fresh blueberries, butter, and honey. Simple and delicious!
Blueberries are tiny colorful packages of nutrients and antioxidants that our body needs. It contains anthocyanins, fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and manganese, all necessary for the proper functioning of our cells. They are delicious when eaten on their own, but they are versatile and can be easily incorporated into healthy and wholesome recipes.
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This is a sponsored post by the U.S Highbush Blueberry Council in the Philippines (@usblueberriesphl on Facebook and Instagram), but all opinions are my own.
Fresh blueberries from the U.S. are available in stores near you and are also offered by online fruit sellers. Get yours now while they’re in season!